Sunday, October 25, 2009

Miguel Cotto vs Manny Pacquiao

Come November 14th, the boxing world is definitely going to have something to write about. Like it or not, this is probably the most important fight of the year because the results will help define, two careers, one weight division, future super fight matchups and the pound for pound rankings. Not bad for a night's work.

Miguel Cotto has been on pretty big stages the last few years, but nothing compares with the challenge and the event that awaits in midnovember. For Manny, it's just another mega fight. In the last four years, Manny has truly made the case that he's the best fighter in the world, facing the best opposition in his division and beyond. He has KO victories over Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De la Hoya, and his road to supremacy has a tough roadblock by the name of Miguel Cotto.

For his part, Miguel Cotto has had some of the toughest fights in any career his last couple of outings. He had a memorable win over Zab Judah, he got the nod in a decision over Joshua Clottey in a fight I think Clottey let go, he outboxed Shane Mosley in an excellent match, and let us not forget the dismantling at the hands and potential plaster of Antonio Margarito. While Manny's controversies have spawned from disputed decisions over Juan Manuel Marquez, Cotto's source of commentary comes from lackluster efforts against a mismatched Michael Jennings and that close fight with Clottey. He's gotten into trouble, he's cutting, but he's shown grit when he's had to. People raise the end of the Margarito fight because Cotto did not go out on his shield, but honestly, that stoppage did more for Cotto's career than taking a further beating from someone who might have had plaster in his gloves or just a stronger will that night, unfortunately we will never know.

So those are the intangibles. In short, Manny is in a hot streak while Cotto seems to be struggling to keep warm. Add to this a new coach for Cotto after his estranged relationship with Evangelista Cotto and there's a lot in the air that makes you question his state of mind.

So what are the tangibles? Well here's a rough list:

1. Cotto is the heavier puncher. Manny is the faster puncher.
2. Cotto is a real welterweight. Manny has shown no signs of being less effective at higher weight classes.
3. Manny is faster. Cotto has better fundamental boxing skills.
4. Cotto is methodical. Manny is dynamic.
5. Both like to punch. None like to fight going backwards.
6. Both have great resolve. Both have taken punishment to win.
7. Both like to put on a show. Neither likes to win by decision.
8. Both are great finishers.

Lest you be fooled by the latest results, this is a close match and Manny will not knock Cotto out in the first few rounds as Freddy Roach has predicted. There are flaws in his defense, but if Manny isn't careful, Cotto will catch him off guard.

If you want a boxer comparison in the style of Deadliest match, lets compare various elements of the two boxers.


Pacquiao - 5'6" / 67"
Cotto - 5'7" / 67"

The one inch height advantage should be a moot point because cotto never fights tall and he's not that long in height or reach. This means that physically, they're pretty evenly matched.


Manny's last fight was at 140. Against Oscar De la Hoya he looked as big as Oscar so this means he can bulk up and not be affected. Again, even matchup in regards to weight though Cotto is obviously the naturally bigger man. But we really won't know how they size up against each other until we see them in the ring.


Manny: Southpaw
Cotto: predominantly Orthodox but is extremely effective from the Southpaw stance.


Manny: Rarely shows signs of considerably fading and is a physical specimen.
Cotto: Has at times shown fatigue but can fight through it effectively.


Manny: Explosive. Fast. Has added various punches to his repertoire.
Cotto: Mechanical. Systematic. Patient. Solid amateur background.

So it's two aggresors squaring off. Last I checked, the people who have done best against Manny pick their spots and pounce when they see an opportunity. Ok so how do they measure in standard punches thrown by boxers.


Manny has a lightning quick jab. It works as a range finder for the straight left or as a setup for the hook.

Cotto has an excellent jab and being left handed, he can actually stun you with the punch. Against Mosley, one of the deciding factors in the fight HAD to be the Cotto jab.

Advantage Cotto.

Left Hook:

Being a southpaw, Manny's power comes mainly from his left hand and Ricky Hatton was knocked out cold with a left hook that he didn't see. It was a kind of uppercut hook and it landed right on the jaw with full force. Pretty much a guaranteed knockout.

Cotto's money punches also come from his left but normally to the body, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have one mean left hook.

Seeing as this is Cotto's bread and butter, he gets the advantage.

Right Hook

Manny has developed a magnificent right hook which he showcased beautifully against Ricky Hatton. Quite simply, Ricky didn't see a right hook that hit him perfectluy on the chin.

Cotto's right hooks are mainly if only exclusively to the body. It's good, but it isn't spectacular.

Advantage Manny.

Straight Cross

Manny's money punch. Like Vic Darchinyan a couple of divisions lower, Manny banks on his straight left hand. it's put away a who's who of hall of fame boxers and facing an orthodox boxer, there's no reason to belive it won't be a major factor in the fight.

Cotto has a good right hand as he showed especially against Ricardo Torres and is a weapon he will definitely need to make a case to beat Manny.

Advantage Manny by a mile.


I don't think I've seen Manny throw many uppercuts in his career which is a shame since Cotto is designed to be weak to an uppercut as seen in his fights against Margarito and Judah.

Cotto occassionally throws an uppercut and I also think he could benefit from including this punch for his fight. Especially from the right hand.

Advantage Cotto.

Body Punches

Manny mixes it up but he rarely commits to the body.

Cotto lives off body punching.

Advantage, Cotto by a mile.

Ok, so each boxer has his or her own repertoire of punches that could help them win... what are their keys to success? Following I'll offer five keys to success for each boxer.

For Manny:

1. Hook off the jab. Cotto was hurt in his fight against Demarcus Corley from a counter right hook and Manny can tag Cotto with this punch if Cotto drops his defense.

2. Either pick your spots or go all out. Being economical obviusly favors faster fighters (see Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones) but Cotto does not like fighting going backwards and if Manny can push him back, he should be massively effective. For my part, I think he should be economical because he does not have the weight or height of Margarito to back Cotto at will.

3. Always circle to your left. Cotto is probably banking on banging to your body and it's there for him since you lead with your left side. Protect this or enjoy a painful knockout.

4. Double the jab before firing your straight left. The only combination I think Manny should abuse is this one. Varying between single and double jabbing before giving a straight left should throw Cotto off.

5. Look for the straight left and consider shooting the uppercut. Opposing stances are open to straight punches and Manny's left is superior to Cotto's right.

For Miguel Cotto:

1. I said use an uppercut, but I didn't say from where. If Miguel Cotto can land a right uppercut to the solar plexus of Pacquiao, he's going to be in the money and Manny will be on the canvas.

2. Pour the pressure on. You are the heavier man or at least should be, act your weight.

3. Vary the tempo of the jab. I'm not asking for Joe Calzaghe like jabbing, I'm saying tag with the jab until you find a good opening to commit to the punch.

4. Walk to your left and away from Manny's money punch. Manny has a good right hook, but it is not guaranteed to end a fight, unlike his left.

5. Buckle the body. Hooking with the left and right should be mandatory for Cotto if he wants to win and for great body punching, he has to be in close quarters, which doesn't benefit Manny's punching power. Step in and crack a rib or two.

So who do I think will win? Honestly, it's anyone's fight and it will come down to discipline, gameplan, adaptation, and resolve. Manny probably has a game plan but we haven't seen him adapt in case things aren't going to plan. Cotto is more than able to adapt and change styles and tactics. Manny has never come into a fight out of shape and if he does so this time, he will get knocked out. Simple as that. Cotto looks good and started training a full month before Pacquiao stepped into the gym. We'll see if this is a factor.

As for other factors, well let's take into account that Cotto cuts badly around the mouth and the eyes. Something tells me Manny should jab and hook to the left side of the face of Cotto and guess what, since it's a lefty vs a right, odds are heads will clash so don't be surprised if Cotto gets cut, I'm pretty much banking on it. There is tension in the Pacquiao camp and Cotto's camp looks relaxed though I've yet to hear something to suggest Joe Santiago is the exact trainer to get the best out of Cotto.

Now if you were betting on this fight, I'd pick Cotto for one simple reason... He's a 3 to 1 underdog and he DEFINITELY has the tools to win.

Regardless of who you bet on or root for, missing this fight is not an option.


Open letter to Jermaine Taylor

Dear Mr. Taylor:

I begin this letter with Mr. Taylor out of respect, not because I think you're old and washed up. I state that as blatantly as possible because that's what most people seem to think and though your record could definitely make a case for this, I want to hold on to hope, because at one time, I really did think you were a hell of a fighter until you ran into Pavlik.

Oh there they go again, Pavlik this, Pavlik that. True, this might sound like a broken record, but since your losses to Pavlik, quite simply, you haven't been the same fighter. Is it mental, is it physical, is it spiritual? I really don't know but I am seeing a once prized fighter taking a ridiculous amount of punishment and I don't want to see him get hurt.

Wait, but didn't I say I wasn't writing you off? Well, I'm not. I'm just going to say that there is little or no reason to be fighting over your rightful weight division. Your fighting weight is 160 pounds and please let there be no doubt that THAT is your rightful weight. Regarding conditioning, and fading in fights, which unfortunately has happened, there are two options to this: working on your cardio, which definitely seems to not be working or going for broke early in a fight and gamble on a knockout. The first one as I said, hasn't worked and both Froch and Abraham scored very late stoppages. In both instances you were having trouble with their right hand punches and though you can't forget that a hook can knock you out, getting knocked out the same way twice, is something that shouldn't happen to any boxer that is as skilled as we've thought you are.

What used to be a crisp thudding jab has become a pecking range finder and the slingshot action we saw from your one two combination has been often times absent. Also, holding your hands low and making your opponent pay when they think they can tag you works for Roy Jones and Floyd Mayweather, but clearly, this isn't an option for you so either modify your defense or get ready to take another bad knockout in your next outting.

As it stands, you are still in the Super Six Tournament and you will be facing people who will want to cash in on three points for a knockout. I urge you, stand your ground and let them know you are a participant and not a sacrificial lamb, or seriouslys consider pulling out of the tournament in benefit of your health and your professional record.

Here's hoping for a selective memory that learns from mistakes and forgets knockout losses and that the Jermaine of old shows up for the next fight and lands 30% of his right hands and remembers to punish with his jab.


Not So Super 6?

The Super 6 Super middleweight tournament has begun and early leaders aren't that surprising when you see the results.

The first bout of the tournament had Arthur Abraham facing Jermaine Taylor. Simply put, Jermaine Taylor, though clearly the best known participant of this tournament, was diving into deep waters and if he didn't know it, he found out, the hard way he's found out all too often lately. After dominating the first 5 rounds (which was expected), Arthur Abraham turned up the volume, dialed in his strategy and methodically picked apart the former world champion. If you've ever played a turn based RPG game, this fight at times definitely felt more like that than an actual contest. Abraham punched, went into a defensive posture, Jermaine attacked, finished his flurry, went into defensive posture, Abraham started the cycle again. This happened for most of the fight and it was frustrating if you wanted an all out slugfest or something where Jermaine would have showed a little more boxing savvy. But true to form, Abraham's defense was pretty tight though one dimensional. But seeing as how effective it was, you'd have to wonder just how many dimensions you need when one game plan works as well as it did. As the fight plodded on, the action came in spurts and Abraham let rounds be a lot closer than they had to be way too often. But from time to time, he gave a good hook or one of dozens of rights hands that simply couldn't miss for him and at a couple of times, Jermaine looked on shaky legs. Then, in the final round, when Jermaine was pretty much fighting to end the fight on his feet, Arthur Abraham had other ideas. After a flickering jab, Abraham showed why he's one of two fighters favored to win this fight by sledgehammering a right hand that sent Taylor to the canvas for the third time in his career.

By tournament rules, you get 0 points for a loss, 1 point for a draw, 2 points for a victory and an extra point if you score a knockout.

Second fight of the night had Carl Froch facing Andre Direll. Well in case you're a boxer and are looking for a place to showcase your dirty boxing, you should definitely go to England. Nothing against English boxers, but when I think about Kostya Tszyu being "dethroned" by Ricky Hatton, my memory differs from the glorious night English boxing fans remember and I have flashes of holding and hitting, head locks and rough tactics that would make Andrew Gollota proud. If you differ from this opinion, you clearly have the union jacket in your blood and will not listen to reason, because just in case, I never said Kostya won the fight, I'm just saying Ricky didn't fight clean. He obviously won the fight. Getting back to present day England,Carl the Cobra Froch did exactly what he had to do, bullied his way into the path of young Direll, tagged the young guy and took a victory that was close, but clearly his. What we can take from the fight though is that Direll hits back when he's hit but not hurt, and back pedals when he REALLY gets tagged. The kid clearly has skills and when he turned up the heat in the latter rounds, I found myself looking at a prospect that might have gotten the decision at some other locations. I still saw Froch winning, but Direll's handspeed was impressive and his power honestly surprised me, because it's not like Carl Froch can't take a punch. The lessons learned for Froch in case he meets another slick boxer, cut off the ring, throw the right with abandon, then fake the guy and throw a hook. Sounds easy, but it isn't. For Direll, all I can say is that I think he can bang with the likes of Froch and Ward, but should be careful with Abraham, Kessler and even Taylor.

So as the standings go, Abraham is in the lead with 3 points, Froch 2nd with 2 points and Taylor and Direll tied for 3rd with 0. Kessler will be fighting Ward next and for me, Kessler is the fighter I want to see the most. He looks like the super middleweight Klitschko if you ask me and I think he has the most crowd pleasing style of anyone in the tournament and my pick to face of Abraham in the final.

So was the first night of the Super 6 not so super? I think it scored a B overall but the most important thing to note is that this tournament might very well change the face of boxing. The best fighting the best in this division is an interesting prospect, but can you imagine a featherweight, lightweight or welterweight tournament? Think of the possibilities. The best fighting the best, no ducking allowed, who you draw is who you fight and who you fight is eventually going to be who the crowd wants to see fight. If that isn't what Floyd Mayweather needs to truly make a case for pound for pound supremacy, I don't know what is.